HIS PLACE IN THE POST-WAR WORLD . . A NEW ORDER . . .
EDUCATION . RELIGION?
A.B.C.A. Lecturer Tells "C.H."
The Catholic Herald is able to give this week an exclusive and unique description of what is going on in the minds of our soldiers in regard to current economic, social and religious questions. This description takes the form of questions put by The Catholic Herald to Dr. H. W. Howes, and Dr. Howes' answers.
Dr. Howes has probably had more experience in voluntary lecturing to the troops than anyone else in the country. He has given 750 of these lectures, given A.B.C.A. Officers' Courses (Army Bureau of Current Affairs, founded in August, 1941, to keep soldiers at home and abroad informed of world events and contemporary trends), and is on vatious Army lecture panels and education executives.
Why do you consider your findings so important?
My conclusions are based on reasonably adequate evidence. For two years I have talked to troops, each talk being followed by a discussion. About 750 talk-discussions give one the . opportunity of hearing the views of men from all sorts of units. A rough estimate tells me that I must have spoken to at least a quarter of a million Service men and about two thousand Service women. These represent every arm of the Services and almost every branch within the Army. • The men's opinions arc important, not merely on the matter of morale, but as a pointer to the kind of future asked for by men who are immediately saleguarding that future. All sorts of civilian groups are planning. a new world, but 1 feel that the 'views of the soldier are only too often left out. lie has his views, a bit clouded at times,
but with help he can clarify his ideas and a deposit is left.
I am in touch with both factory and camp, and I fed that the soldier is thinking harder about the world of to-morrow. He realises that he must put up with present sacrifices, but continues to be definitely " brownedOff " over the matter of his pay compared with that operating in industry. He cannot understand why conscription. and equal pay for soldier and bench worker. was not made universal at the beginning of the war, and it will take a long ante for this idea to he removed from his mind.
The men who are prepared to face the offensive have a right to know what it is they are fighting for. Therefore, their opinions on this subject arc bound to be of extreme value.
How do the men think that the gap between youth and adolescence can be bridged?
1 do not think the ' soldier has seriously considered methods for bridging the gap between the elementary school leaving age and the assuming of civic responsibilities, except that he thinks that young people should be taught to serve. Officers and others who have received secondary school education seem worried because they did not stop an extra year at school in order to get over the mental indigestion due to the School Certificate course and to receive in that year the necessary equipment for meeting the problems of life in the world which they are about to enter.
It is noteworthy that the product of the re-organised senior school is most anxious to learn and, compared with the Older age groups in the Army, is not ashamed to admit publicly that there are many things he does not know. The recent intake from the senior school has had many interests aroused, but lacks, the backbround for fully appreciating the significance of current events.
The school teachers are blamed for being afraid to teach boys, and girls about the dominions and colonies, in case they were accused of being jingoes. At the same time, the men, as adults, intensely dislike propaganda talks. Some men hold that in the last two terms of school, the school days should be lengthened gradually, so as to avoid the shock consequent upon the increase of hours in the factory or place of business.
The " old school tie " class idea does worry the men, but not to the extent which some educationalists imagine. The men's argument is that if a public "school man is all he should be, then he is as decent a fellow as anybody else.. However, they expect a higher standard from him. I have met many men who contend that there is a serious danger' of the old school tie of the public school being replaced by the secondary school " black-coated worker " idea.
Are the men satisfied with presentday teaching?
I cannot say that teachers are very popular! There is nearly unanimous approval for the idea that teaching is a vocation, and that teachers should have broader outlooks than do the products of our present training colleges.
It is thought by some that intending teachers should spend some months in an office or factory, so that they will know the world for which they are preparing the young person.
The notion that standards of behaviour need to receive greater emphasis in State schOols is very common. One man said to me, " I 'lave had a good education, but I wish someone had taught me how to act at a public dinner, to be polite and above all had offered me some standards to which I could refer what I am about to do or have just done." He was a private, and a Scottish miner in civilian life.
While on the subject of education, I have been somewhat surprised , at the marked approval for mixed education, the argument being that men feel that as women have to work beside them in civilian life and in the Services, it is silly to segregate them at school. This